Difficult spots - psyching yourself out! - Not letting a difficult part throw you

Discuss the joys and pratfalls of performance

Postby Stretto » Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:22 pm

Has anyone ever experienced this in performing a piece? - -

You are playing along just fine when you come to one of the most challenging spots in the piece. You know the kind. The one's that you've struggled to master the most in practice. You were relaxed up to this point but a measure or two before the difficult spot, you start telling yourself, "oh no, here comes the hard part! Hope I can get through it o.k." You start getting more nervous, blood pressure starts rising, you even start to tense up! This makes matters worse and you flub your way through because you started worrying and tensing up more when the hard part came up.

How does one combat the "worrying ahead" and saying, "hope I can get through this part", that occurs a measure or two before a challenging spot in the music? I have to literally tell myself doubly hard to "RELAX, YOU CAN DO THIS JUST FINE!" It helps but I have to reverse my thinking midstream sometimes. I've found myself literally making myself relax when I start to think negatively. My mind starts saying, "oh no!" Then I have to reverse my thinking on the spot. Again it helps. Does anyone else have any other suggestions to stay in the "worry free zone" on the most challenging spots in a piece while performing?




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Postby Christine » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:00 pm

I just recently picked up a copy of Seymour Bernstein's "With Your Own Two Hands- Self Discovery Through Music" (forgive me if I am not allowed to mention titles- I'm not sure about the board rules on this...). I have not started reading it yet, so I couldn't yet recommend it, but it apparently deals with overcoming stage fright, nervousness, sharpening concentration and memory techniques. I am hoping to work on these areas myself, so I am hoping this book may give some ideas. Has anyone else read this, or have any other titles that have helped them in these areas?

Thanks. :)
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:50 pm

Stretto, I think probably you can find more comments on this problem if you check back through earlier posts--seems like we talked about it a lot.

Here's a true story on how it affects even the pros.

I once listened to John Browning practice on the afternoon of a recital he was to give at the university where I was a graduate student. There was a difficult passage in the Prokofieff 3rd Sonata that he kept going over and over for at least half an hour--later he went back and worked on it some more. Well, guess: that night in the recital he came to that place and blew it. I guess we just can't win all the time, no matter how good we get!

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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Apr 05, 2006 11:20 am

That's good to know...I guess!

:p
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Postby Stretto » Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:00 pm

I skimmed back through earlier posts before starting the thread to make sure it hadn't already been dealt with. I guess I must have not read closely enough. I'll read again.

Anyway, for myself, I've mostly overcome this by telling myself: 1. "I can do this." 2. "It isn't really that hard." 3. Consciously checking for and correcting any tension anywhere in my body a couple measures before the "difficult" passage. (Well, I do this periodically throughout the piece also).

So basically I counteract the "oh no, hope I get through this!" panic by taking those steps a couple measures ahead. I do this in practice too so I get used to it.

I just wondered what others do or think when they get to parts that would otherwise cause one to start worrying and wondered if others out there have that experience of thinking, "oh no" at difficult places in the music. I would think most have experienced this. I try to help my students not get caught in this trap. One thing too is I think if the music has a lot of markings, circled notes, "flags" all over a section, one sees those when the part come up and it amplifies the problem. Once I or my students understand those parts and can remember what to do, I usually erase all those marks so it looks like any other part of the music.




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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:12 pm

The hard bits always seemed scary for me ... (especially for singing!) really scary that I'd only attempt once or twice. BUT its when I practice one phrase in isolation over and over and over again where I actually look forward to the tricky bits in a performance. I think often the hard bits are the most virtuosic because of that I can see (particually performing for small intimate groups) how amazed ones get when the hard bits are done flawlessly.

Well thats all I have to say ... PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Till you cant get it wrong. The more you practice the easier it becomes and eventually you'll look forward to it :) .
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:55 am

The most stupid "advice" I ever ran into was when the choirmaster was sick and somebody else decided to become teacher. She had no training and in fact, could not sing.

One of the things was to point out how "hard" the supposed "high" notes were. We were supposed to think of these "difficult high" notes in advance and then "strive" to reach them. I have two octaves and the notes were well below my range. Nonetheless with the gestures and reminders of their "highness" and "difficulty" even I had to struggle not start straining at something was neither high nor difficult. I would never practice something while having an image of difficulty - that image sticks. :(
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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:38 am

pianissimo wrote:The most stupid "advice" I ever ran into was when the choirmaster was sick and somebody else decided to become teacher. She had no training and in fact, could not sing.

One of the things was to point out how "hard" the supposed "high" notes were. We were supposed to think of these "difficult high" notes in advance and then "strive" to reach them. I have two octaves and the notes were well below my range. Nonetheless with the gestures and reminders of their "highness" and "difficulty" even I had to struggle not start straining at something was neither high nor difficult. I would never practice something while having an image of difficulty - that image sticks. :(

:( ... I cant believe there are idiots like that around the globe! There is a particular teacher I know that knows nothing about vocal technique who offered to give me lessons. I nicely said "no, I'm fine I have my own teacher." She insisted and said that she'd train me for free.... I then replied "its ok... I'm happy with the teacher I am with."

Funny enough the next week when she was giving guidance to other students on hitting high notes and her advice was all about coming up to "reach" then since they were "hard" ... I corrected her and said "think of coming up over the top ... dont think of struggling to reach the note otherwise it will be a struggle" ...

Funny enough now she gets me to talk and advise other vocal students that don't take lessons. ???
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